Quote of the Week: 22 January 2018

It’s man’s ‘imaginations and stupidities’ that makes the tragedies so affecting – and effective …

BH bernalJD BernalThe World, The Flesh and the Devil: An Enquiry into the Future of the Three Enemies of the Rational Soul (Verso:  London, 2017)

Last year’s ‘reading river’ reflected a monomaniac attitude towards Shakespeare, which I think I’m going to try to avoid this year.

First off was a virtual trolley dash through the sale aisle of Verso Books, ‘the largest independent, radical publishing house in the English-speaking world‘ on New Year’s Eve.  Only one of the baker’s dozen of political tracts I bought had any specific link to Shakespeare  But I can’t and won’t dismiss Shakespeare entirely this year, and there’s some added fun in finding the ‘applicability’ – NOT ‘relatability’ – of my wider reading to the plays, and vice versa.

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PTS 09/052: It’s got nil-nil written all over it …

As Alice might say: ‘de tongues of de mans is be full of
deceits’

BH no score draw

Love’s Labour’s Lost, Act II

‘We could do with a shot on goal, John.  The game’s mostly being played in the middle of the pitch’ …

Our Princess arrives, and immediately impresses.  In fact, she reminds me of my girlfriend: scarily competent, impervious to flattery (no, really), and icily, frustratingly logical at times.

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PTS 08/046: A Tale of Two Sisters

Doormat or A-dor-ably Feisty? Luciana and Adriana swap roles in Act II …

BH Sisters
Who needs a man when you have a sister?  Adriana, that’s who …

Ponytail Shakespeare Read-Through: The Comedy of Errors, Act II

Aha!  A single woman in a Shakespeare comedy – what she needs is a HUSBAND, I thought, my Jane Austen goggles firmly on.  In this, I was egged on by Kent Cartwright, as I mentioned in writing about Act I, and who colluded with Jane and my previously-held assumptions.

And what a catch Luciana appears to be for our unreconstructed EMP man!

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Crimes Against Shakespeare 008

WE CANNOT, MUST NOT, WIPE ART WITH ANTI-BACTERIAL WIPES BEFORE ALLOWING THE NEXT GENERATION TO HANDLE IT …

BH CSF blinding of Gloucester
‘Out, vile jelly’:  the blinding of Gloucester …

I took this picture – from King Lear – at the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival back in 2012.  I often show it to pupils who try to tell me that Shakespeare is ‘boring‘.  Or indeed I give them some of the plot details from Titus Andronicus that have caused such concern of late …

It’s taken me a little while to allow this one to sink in to the extent that it became a ‘crime’, but in the Dock, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, I give you no less than the English Faculty of Cambridge University (or at least some members of that august institution) …

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PTS 07/040: Grab your coat, love – you’ve pulled …

A
‘What though I killed her husband and her father?’

Richard III:  Act I sc ii (Ponytail Shakespeare read-through)

Sub-title:  ‘Do you have free wi-fi?  Because I’m sensing a connection …’

At school, we have a department policy of sitting boy-girl where possible (until sixth form, at least), and in most classes there is a combination that seems to get on that bit too well.  So, I’ve been researching chat-up lines I can embarrass those pupils with.  Yes, I’m that kind of teacher …

These are the best clean ones I’ve found so far.  If you can top this, let me know.

Anyway, back to the play!  Shrug.  If you’ve decided to behave badly, you may as well test your strength straight away, right?  If we accept, after my last post, that the main thing on Richard‘s mind is the constant, inevitable rejection of women, it follows that his next step in the play (the true story is somewhat different) is to seduce someone …

(Can I also say it hurt my eyes to search for this image?  

See the lengths I am willing to go to for you?)

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PTS 06/037: Don’t Push It

BH rambo don't push it
Titus:  Don’t push it … don’t push it or I’ll give you a war you won’t believe.  Let it go.

Titus Andronicus, Act V

(subtitled, far too obviously for the UK football fans amongst us, ‘who ate all the pies?’)

I warned you!  I WARNED YOU!  Did I warn you?

Yes, I did.  And so did Francis Bacon.  And Jonathan Bate.  And Fredson Bowers.  We all said that revenge was likely to spiral out of control, because once you lose your faith in the law, and in divine justice too, all bets are off. And because every stroke in the ‘rally of revenge‘ is that much harder, has that much more spin on it than the last.  Let’s mix our metaphors again: in this particular poker game, someone, eventually, is going to see your stake and raise you with everything they’ve got, not caring any more whether they win or lose. The chips, and what they represent, are suddenly and utterly unimportant …

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PTS 06/036: Losing My Religion

BH old man yells at cloud

Titus Andronicus, Act IV

Secular authorities had (and still have) every investment in discouraging revenge.  If citizens perceive that the law no longer serves them, then we get the kind of situation that Francis Bacon famously warned of:

‘Revenge is a kind of wild justice’

And this is a point that Jonathan Bate develops, quoting Fredson Bowers:

Private action undermines the authority of the state:  Elizabethan law felt itself capable of meting out justice to murderers, and therefore punished an avenger who took justice into his own hands just as heavily as the original murderer.  The authorities, conscious of the Elizabethan inheritance of private justice from earlier ages, recognised that their own times still held the possibilities of serious turmoil; and the were determined that private revenge should not unleash a general disrespect for law.

Act IV however adds the dimension of the breakdown of DIVINE justice to the individual’s decision to subvert the legal process.

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